My Morning Jacket's sixth album, Circuital, has been out for a year, but the tour behind the disc is still going strong. In two weeks, they head to Europe to hit up a bunch of festivals, and in mid-July they'll launch an American tour of outdoor venues with more fest stops. Frontman Jim James says the group doesn't plan out the evening's setlist until a few hours before going onstage.
"You're not always sure what'll happen in a given night," James says. "I've been trying to be more open to just letting things go. Some nights you're feeling really good and you're ready to rock, and other nights, if you're sick or you're tired, you get into more of a dark groove and you wanna follow a different path."
In October of 2010, the band played their first five albums in succession during a residency at New York's Terminal 5. "It made me appreciate some of the older songs. It also made me hate some of them even more," says James, who wouldn't name the tunes that caught his ire. "There were some songs that we never really played or even thought about and I enjoyed playing them, but it also reconfirmed my hatred for some of them." James is open to playing the band's entire catalog at some point in the future. "Hopefully that'll happen again," he says. "It's important."
When the tour wraps, James will turn his attention back to his debut solo album. "It's done," says James. "I think it's gonna come out in early February of next year. I think people who are fans of My Morning Jacket will obviously recognize some things on there, my voice and stuff like that. It's got some mellow stuff on there, but it's also got some really different stuff. I'm really proud of it. I think it's got some different soundscapes that I've been into that maybe have been hidden on some Jacket records."
James enjoyed the opportunity to record with other musicians. "One of my childhood friends, who was in the first band I was ever in, plays drums on most of the record," he says. "Now I'm trying to put the band together to go on tour with after it comes out. I'm getting back together with friends I haven't played with in a long time, from home. It's very exciting."
In the meantime, My Morning Jacket are plotting a follow-up to their epic New Years Eve show at Madison Square Garden in 2008. "We were all just talking about that a second ago," James says. "It's a shame because we wanted to do more New Year's shows at the Garden, but Phish booked it for the next four years. We haven't confirmed this yet, but we're close to finalizing a New Year's show in Boston. It's just not one hundred percent yet. The crowd there is always really rowdy and fun. It would also be an easy travel for people in New York or Philly. Again, it's not one hundred percent, but we're all kind of drooling over the idea right now."